Travel Notes: A Love Letter to Paris

Dear Paris,

Hi, it’s me, Laura. We’ve met three times before. I know you’re fabulous. You know you’re fabulous. Everyone knows you’re fabulous. But, hey, I bet it never hurts to be reminded of the fact. And so, here are some of the things I loved about you on my most recent visit.

I love Rue Cler. Upon arriving from Amsterdam, we made our way almost immediately to Rue Cler. The area was buzzing with activity; it seemed like every person in Paris was out enjoying a Sunday lunch at the cute cafes lining your streets, and soon we were just such two people. After lunch, we stopped at my favorite little creperie (Ulysse en Gaul) for unparalleled people watching and sweet Nutella crepe goodness.

I love the Eiffel Tower. Oh, Paris, I fear that even you don’t love the Eiffel Tower. I’ve heard that your residents find it tres tacky, but – for better or worse – it is the symbol of your city. When I see it, I feel a little thrill. Because in that moment I know, I’m in Paris. And it is fabulous.

I love your artwork. Seriously, Paris, are you just showing off here? I mean, you’ve got the Orsay and the Rodin, two of my favorite museums ever. And don’t even get me started on the Louvre. It’s ridiculous. You could spend a lifetime and a half wandering around its halls (which, in and of themselves are pieces of art) and still not see everything. Let’s just get past the fact that the Mona Lisa is overrated and comically tiny. There are so many other paintings, sculptures, and artifacts to treasure. This visit, I was especially enchanted with the works of Jacques Louis David and with the painting “The Burial of Atala” by Anne-Louis Girodet de Roucy-Trioson (pictured below).

I love your food. I have many French favorites, but one of my favorite meals this trip was plain and simple – onion soup, pomme frites, and white wine. The onion soup, in particular, never fails to impress. You really cannot go wrong with sinfully excessive amounts of cheese in soup. And as you can see below, Janelle also enjoyed your tasty Croque Madame.

I love your ambiance. You see, you have this delightful river flowing right through your heart, and as we walk across the Pont d’Arcole onto the Ile de la Cite, I feel the magic all around me. I’m in the center of the city, the place where it literally all began, and life is pretty damn good.

I love Notre Dame. I’ll be honest with you – sometimes I feel major church fatigue while in Europe. I mean, how many churches can you visit? And don’t they all kind of look the same? But Notre Dame, with all its gothic grandeur, is something special to behold. Notre Dame, I don’t get tired of.

I love that you are the city of love. One day, I hope to be in love in Paris. How wonderful would that be? For now, though, I’ll just have to soak up the love that’s all around me when I’m there. There are over-the-top gestures of PDA everywhere you look. You Parisians sure aren’t shy about showing your affection to one another, that’s for certain. In any other place, I might roll my eyes at it, but in Paris, I give it a free pass.

I love Sacre Coeur. It, like Notre Dame, is one of the few exceptions to my boring church rule. I love that it sits atop a hill in Montmartre. I love that, from its steps, you can look out and see all of Paris. I love its blindingly white domes. And I love to relax on the hill just below it, listening to the music performers, and seizing a moment to chill out and simply be.

I love standing atop the Arc d’Triomphe. You have to climb up hundreds of tiny, winding stairs to get there, but when you emerge onto that rooftoop, it’s spectacular. Looking down the Champs Elysee and watching the eighteen million lanes of traffic spiral around the Arc, I feel the energy of the sitting buzzing all around me.

I love the elegance of Laduree. Walking through the line there, passing intricate pastry after intricate pastry, and taking in the sweet sugary smells. Sitting outdoors under a mint green tent, grabbing a table with mint green tableclothes, and sipping my coffee out of a mint green coffee cup, I feel ever so slightly elegant even though I know I’m not. And, oh yes, did I mention your macarons? They are light and colorful and wonderful (salted caramel became my new obsession, this time around).

I love floating down the Seine. On our last night, we took a dinner cruise down the river, and it was the perfect way to end my five weeks in Europe. It’s a lovely and special thing to do, in a lovely and special place.

So, Paris, all this is a very lengthy way of saying that I love you as much as I ever did and can’t wait to come back again soon. I know you’ll be waiting for me.

xoxoxo,

Laura

P.S. In May and June of 2011, I spent 5 weeks traveling around Europe. This post is the last of a series chronicling the different places I visited on that trip. Here’s where else I went: Rome, Palermo, Cefalu, Taormina, Siracusa, Agrigento, Colmar, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, and Amsterdam.

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